Snipe Hunting

TACK UP A lost-cat sign on a Minneapolis telephone pole and normally you'd be subject to the standard misdemeanor fine of $700 or 90 days in jail. But last fall when a police officer moonlighting for the Uptown Association cited Doug Jennes, a campaigner for Socialist Workers Party Minneapolis mayoral candidate Jennifer Benton, Benton filed and won a temporary injunction on the anti-"snipe advertising" ordinance. The city was also forced to throw out the remaining $1,400 in citations against Jennes for setting up a card table on the sidewalk and selling the SWP newspaper without a permit when courts granted injunctions against those ordinances. The court found the permit process--which consists solely of gaining permission from the local City Council member--unconstitutional.

Benton and her attorney, Randall Tigue, agreed to wait a "couple of weeks" (reportedly requested by city attorney Larry Cooperman) for Minneapolis to revise the ordinances before pressing for a permanent injunction. But Tigue says the city has been silent more than six weeks, and he's ready to act. If he wins, the city ultimately could be forced to eliminate the permit process altogether, in which case it might move to prohibit all postering. "I would have a real problem with that," says canvass director Jonathan Guzzo of the poster-utilizing Minnesota Public Interest Research Group. "It's part of America, part of what makes us a democracy."

 
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